How To Open A Thrift Store And Become A Boss

With a storied past, two things about me on this particular topic of thrift stores:

  • I worked for one, was in training to become a General Manager
  • I helped a friend to set up one in Jamaica

It is on this latter “experience” that this post focuses on but let me give a little background on the industry as a whole.

A thrift store resembles opening a second-hand store, in which you can keep used clothes, books, furniture, crockery or whatever you want, and sell them in relatively low prices. The thrift store owners gather the items by the rich community, which are in a position to be used again, and keep them in their stores.

Thrifting to Success

That is according to OGS Capital here in Canada. Check out their website if you have any interest in starting one and need to develop a business plan – a step that is highly recommended.

Quite frankly, I frequently shop at thrift stores here in my city of Edmonton, Alberta. We have quite a few locations. Before COVID-19, my trips to thrift stores were at least monthly. Often, people would admire and compliment me on an item bought at the thrift store, assuming that I paid top dollars for it. Well, that was not the case although quite often the item was a designer brand dress, top or bottom. From time to time, I would come away with high-end accessories for my home. Again, people would be surprised when they learn where it was bought AND how little was paid for it.

Thrift stores are not only at physical locations. As with most aspects of our lives, thrifting has become a thriving online operation.

Thrift stores aren’t usually a fast-track to riches but they can make solid cash.


Check out the full article on the five top tips on starting an online thrift store here.

You Are Already Using Second-Hand

Now to my experience in Kingston, Jamaica. There are people selling just about everything everywhere on the island. Noting this on my last visit in December 2019, I remarked to my now late husband that there are more sellers than buyers. This was particularly true in the downtown area that we would often pass through. Clothing, food, household items of every description are sold on every street corner in Downtown Kingston, every central market area in every parish and town.

Despite that, you would be hard-pressed to find a thrift store. Why? My theory is that Jamaicans just do not like the idea of paying for second-hand items, particularly clothes. That I found strange because many Jamaicans receive barrels at least once per year and I would bet my last dollar that many of the items within are bought from thrift stores here in Canada, the United States and Great Britain.

Years ago, while in Jamaica for about five months, a close friend of mine was the Director of a not-for-profit. They had several projects to generate income for the organization and one was to open a thrift store in Kingston. Given my experience with this type of business, I gave some assistance with the set-up. Donations poured in from across upper St. Andrew communities (read as wealthy). Much of the items were of high quality. We had to recruit volunteers to help us sort, clean, and price these items. After much promotion, we launched the store.

It failed. Very few people wanted to be seen walking into a thrift store or did not think they should pay for second-hand items. Whatever the reason, I am of the opinion that it is a missed opportunity for an enterprising person trying to find a niche.

Times Are Changing – Rapidly

In these changing times, we have to simplify our lives, spend less and get more for what we spend. Personally, there is absolutely no shame in my game. If something is in great condition and at an even greater price at a thrift store – that is what I am buying.

Our mission here at Daughters of Sheba Foundation is to lift women and children out of poverty through economic and other interventions. We are giving information, ideas and point to women to support to do something better with their lives.

There are many opportunities out there – you just need to have the will to start and seed to grow. We are here to help with both as best we can. Ours is not a hand-out organization but hands up with you doing the work necessary.

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Be blessed and be a blessing,


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